A Court of Mist and Fury Page 62

“Why?” Rhys asked with that casual, terrifying calm.

“That was my order. I am not to question. The king wants her.”

My blood went as cold as the woods around us.

“Why?” Rhys said again. The Attor began screaming—this time beneath the force of a power I could not see. I flinched.

“Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know.” I believed it.

“Where is the king currently?”

“Hybern.”

“Army?”

“Coming soon.”

“How large?”

“Endless. We have allies in every territory, all waiting.”

Rhys cocked his head as if contemplating what to ask next. But he straightened, and Azriel slammed into the snow, sending it flying like water from a puddle. He’d flown in so silently, I hadn’t even heard the beat of his wings. Cassian must have stayed at the house to defend my sisters.

There was no kindness on Azriel’s face as the snow settled—the immovable mask of the High Lord’s shadowsinger.

The Attor began trembling, and I almost felt bad for it as Azriel stalked for him. Almost—but didn’t. Not when these woods were so close to the chateau. To my sisters.

Rhys came to my side as Azriel reached the Attor. “The next time you try to take her,” Rhys said to the Attor, “I kill first; ask questions later.”

Azriel caught his eye. Rhys nodded. The Siphons atop his scarred hands flickered like rippling blue fire as he reached for the Attor. Before the Attor could scream, it and the spymaster vanished.

I didn’t want to think about where they’d go, what Azriel would do. I hadn’t even known Azriel possessed the ability to winnow, or whatever power he’d channeled through his Siphons. He’d let Rhys winnow us both in the other day—unless the power was too draining to be used so lightly.

“Will he kill him?” I said, my puffs of breath uneven.

“No.” I shivered at the raw power glazing his taut body. “We’ll use him to send a message to Hybern that if they want to hunt the members of my court, they’ll have to do better than that.”

I started—at the claim he’d made of me, and at the words. “You knew—you knew he was hunting me?”

“I was curious who wanted to snatch you the first moment you were alone.”

I didn’t know where to start. So Tamlin was right—about my safety. To some degree. It didn’t excuse anything. “So you never planned to stay with me while I trained. You used me as bait—”

“Yes, and I’d do it again. You were safe the entire time.”

“You should have told me! ”

“Maybe next time.”

“There will be no next time! ” I slammed a hand into his chest, and he staggered back a step from the strength of the blow. I blinked. I’d forgotten—forgotten that strength in my panic. Just like with the Weaver. I’d forgotten how strong I was.

“Yes, you did,” Rhysand snarled, reading the surprise on my face, that icy calm shattering. “You forgot that strength, and that you can burn and become darkness, and grow claws. You forgot. You stopped fighting.”

He didn’t just mean the Attor. Or the Weaver.

And the rage rose up in me in such a mighty wave that I had no thought in my head but wrath: at myself, what I’d been forced to do, what had been done to me, to him.

“So what if I did?” I hissed, and shoved him again. “So what if I did?”

I went to shove him again, but Rhys winnowed away a few feet.

I stormed for him, snow crunching underfoot. “It’s not easy.” The rage ran me over, obliterated me. I lifted my arms to slam my palms into his chest—

And he vanished again.

He appeared behind me, so close that his breath tickled my ear as he said, “You have no idea how not easy it is.”

I whirled, grappling for him. He vanished before I could strike him, pound him.

Rhys appeared across the clearing, chuckling. “Try harder.”

I couldn’t fold myself into darkness and pockets. And if I could—if I could turn myself into smoke, into air and night and stars, I’d use it to appear right in front of him and smack that smile off his face.

I moved, even if it was futile, even as he rippled into darkness, and I hated him for it—for the wings and ability to move like mist on the wind. He appeared a step away, and I pounced, hands out—talons out—

And slammed into a tree.

He laughed as I bounced back, teeth singing, talons barking as they shredded through wood. But I was already lunging as he vanished, lunging like I could disappear into the folds of the world as well, track him across eternity—

And so I did.

Time slowed and curled, and I could see the darkness of him turn to smoke and veer, as if it were running for another spot in the clearing. I hurtled for that spot, even as I felt my own lightness, folding my very self into wind and shadow and dust, the looseness of it radiating out of me, all while I aimed for where he was headed—

Rhysand appeared, a solid figure in my world of smoke and stars.

And his eyes were wide, his mouth split in a grin of wicked delight, as I winnowed in front of him and tackled him into the snow.

CHAPTER

27

I panted, sprawled on top of Rhys in the snow while he laughed hoarsely. “Don’t,” I snarled into his face, “ever,” I pushed his rock-hard shoulders, talons curving at my fingertips, “use me as bait again.”

He stopped laughing.

I pushed harder, those nails digging in through his leather. “You said I could be a weapon—teach me to become one. Don’t use me like a pawn. And if being one is part of my work for you, then I’m done. Done.”

Despite the snow, his body was warm beneath me, and I wasn’t sure I’d realized just how much bigger he was until our bodies were flush—too close. Much, much too close.

Rhys cocked his head, loosening a chunk of snow clinging to his hair. “Fair enough.”

I shoved off him, snow crunching as I backed away. My talons were gone.

He hoisted himself up onto his elbows. “Do it again. Show me how you did it.”

“No.” The candle he’d brought now lay in pieces, half-buried under the snow. “I want to go back to the chateau.” I was cold, and tired, and he’d …

His face turned grave. “I’m sorry.”

I wondered how often he said those two words. I didn’t care.

I waited while he uncoiled to his feet, brushing the snow off him, and held out a hand.

It wasn’t just an offer.

You forgot, he’d said. I had.

“Why does the King of Hybern want me? Because he knows I can nullify the Cauldron’s power with the Book?”

Darkness flickered, the only sign of the temper Rhysand had once again leashed. “That’s what I’m going to find out.”

You stopped fighting.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, hand still outstretched. “Let’s eat breakfast, then go home.”

“Velaris isn’t my home.”

I could have sworn hurt flashed in his eyes before he spirited us back to my family’s house.

CHAPTER

28

My sisters ate breakfast with Rhys and me, Azriel gone to wherever he’d taken the Attor. Cassian had flown off to join him the moment we returned. He’d given Nesta a mocking bow, and she’d given him a vulgar gesture I hadn’t realized she knew how to make.

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